Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Jazztet 1997

The Jazztet was the brainchild of tenor saxophonist Benny Golson (b. 1929) and trumpet player Art Farmer (1928-1999). This stellar hard bop sextet lasted for 3 years (1959-62) being as influential as Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers at the time. The year is now 1997 and its founding members reunited for a concert in Salzau, Gernamy in the company of such giants as Milt Jackson on vibes, Niels Henning Oersted Pedersen on bass, Kenny Kirkland on piano, the ever - present Ulf Wakenius on guitar and Jonas Johansen on drums of which the first three are sadly no longer with us. First number is a classic Milt "Bags" Jackson hard bop blues, Blues For Diahann.

Next number, Thinking Of You, a beautiful ballad originally included in the 1958 Milt Jackson masterpiece Bag's Opus with Benny Golson, Art Farmer, Connie Kay, Paul Chambers and Tommy Flanagan. Here Bags and Art Farmer really shine in his patented flumpet, a trumpet - flugelhorn hybrid.

This is Benny Golson's masterpiece (and one of my personal favorites) Whisper Not, originally recorded when Benny was a member and main composer of the Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers.

This is I Remember Clifford, another Benny Golson masterpiece dedicated to the great late trumpet player Clifford Brown, originally recorded when Benny was a member and main composer of the Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, which Bags and Benny Golson make, well ...their own.

It's time for Benny Golson to summon to the bandstand the great late pianist Kenny Kirkland to contribute with his magnificent talent to the classic Milt Jackson hard bop blues SKJ written for the lucky Mrs Jackson.

This is Afternoon In Paris, a cool jazz composition by John Lewis who was the piano player and co-leader with Milt Jackson of the Modern Jazz Quartet, the famous jazz outfit that flirted with classical forms.

This is Bag's Groove, Milt Jackson's archetypal hard bop blues and perhaps his signature composition with surprise guests master harmonica player Toots Thielemans and drums genius Max Roach.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

West Coast All Stars - Stuttgart 2001

Conte Candoli, Carl Fontana, Teddy Edwards, Pete Jolly, Chuck Berghofer, Joe LaBarbera. Do these names ring any bells? If not, look elsewhere as these West Coast giants gathered for a magnificent concert at JazzOpen Stuttgart in 2001 to show the world what separates the men from the boys.

Sadly, not one of the elder members of this great outfit is any longer with us, reason enough to cherish these moments even more. Opening number, Miles' "Four".

Time for THE classic West Coast Mike Stoller - Bernie Miller composition, "Bernie's Tune".

Conte Candoli's beautiful, latin-tinged "Secret Passion".

This is E. Harburg's "If Only I Had A Brain" which aptly describes me and this internet jazz crusade of mine, featuring a show-stopper trombone solo by Carl Fontana showing that he belongs up there with Frank Rosolino and J.J. Johnson.

This is Teddy Edwards' nod to the blues and former Stan Kenton bassist Howard Rumsey,leader of great West Coast outfit The Lighthouse All Stars. The whole band really shines here.

This last number is Roger Ramirez's famous ballad "Lover Man" rendered here in an exemplary manner by Teddy Edwards, one of the greatest tenors ever who was 77 at the time this concert took place.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Joe Turner - Champion Jack Dupree

A rare French TV gem from the Sixties featuring two greats: Joe Turner born in Baltimore, 3 Nov 1907 died in Montreuil, France, 21 July 1990 (not to be confused with his great blues singer namesake "Big" Joe Turner), a dazzling stride pianist who played with all the greats in Harlem during the Twenties, Louis Armstrong amongst them, and the great "Champion" Jack Dupree (1910 - 1992), the embodiment of of the New Orleans blues and boogie woogie pianist, a true barrelhouse "professor" and a great showman to boot as these videos attest. The show is left in its entirety to preserve the period feel and to marvel at the level of mass culture back then compared to now. First number, a James P. Johnson original, "Keeping Out Of The Grass".

This is an original, "Cloud Fifteen" followed by James P. Johnson's "Carolina Shout". Just watch this man's complete mastery of the instrument and its nuances and his incredible time feel -- there are moments when Oscar Peterson, no less, comes to mind.

This is W. C. Handy's classic, "St. Louis Blues" preceded by a small Joe Turner interview in French, as Joe was already a French resident by then.

It's time for the Champ to sit in front of those 88 keys and deliver the goods on his own (and aptly named) "The Woman I Love Takes My Appetite".

Champion's own "Diggin' My Potatoes". Check out the zany effect those rings make hitting those ebonies.

"Chicken Baby", a great Champ blues number showing his Louisiana roots.

The Champ displaying his amazing boogie woogie credentials on the first ever boogie woogie hit, Pinteop Smith's "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie", what else?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Johnny Griffin - Arthur Taylor Quartet , Paris 1971

Tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin (b. 1928), affectionately called "the little giant" due to his diminutive stature by his fellow musicians, will certainly go down in history for his dazzlingly energetic solos, played lightning-fast with near perfect technique - one of hard-bop movement's shining stars.

He started his career with Lionel Hampton's big band in 1945 and by the time this French video was filmed in 1971 Griffin had been an expatriate living in France since 1963, same year as the great hard-bop drummer Arthur "Art" Taylor (1929-1995), one of the genre's foremost practitioners, who accompanies him here in Charlie Parker's famous blues "Now's The Time" along with two French musicians, Rene Urtreger on piano and Alby Cullaz on bass.

Charlie Parker's famous calypso - tinged "My Little Swede Shoes"

Thelonious Monk's famous blues "Blue Monk"

"Blues For Harvey" a blazing duet and a display of extreme musicianship by both these masters.

*all videos from my personal collection posted on youtube and elsewhere on the web.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Joe Zawinul - Leverkusener Jazz Festival November 2002

We continue the tribute to this jazz giant: In November 2002, a historic concert took place at the "Leverkusener Jazztage" in Germany to celebrate Joe Zawinul's 70th birthday. The musical retrospective of Zawinul's career featured the WDR Big Band along with several awesome soloists, including Zawinul's former bandmates from Weather Report percussionist Alex Acunia, drummer Peter Erskine and bass ace Victor Bailey. The program consisted of arrangements of Weather Report compositions by Vince Mendoza, "Db Waltz" fron "Domino Theory" and "Fast City" from "Night Passage" to be followed by a performance of the Zawinul Syndicate of the time proper. This is "Db Waltz".

This is "Fast City" from Weather Report LP "Night Passage"

It's time for The Zawinul Syndicate proper to take center stage in this magnificent 2002 concert. Joe Zawinul aided by Amit Chatterjee on guitar and vocals, Etienne Mbappe on bass, Paco Sery on drums and Manolo Badrena on percussion, all masters in their respective instruments give us wonderful moments with their all encompassing music. This music is indeed a celebration of life but not describable in some kind of style as Amit Chatterjee said.

Joe Zawinul summons Portuguese singer Maria Joao onstage for an exquisite duet which will make your hair stand on end, "Villa Lobos".

This is "Tower Of Silence", featuring amazing vocals from Joe Zawinul and guitarist Amit Chatterjee.

Goosebumps time. Joe Zawinul with Sabine Kabongo, an amazing Belgian - born singer of Congolese roots and long time member of the Syndicate and Etienne M'bappe on Duke Ellington's masterpiece "Come Sunday".

Time for the full Syndicate lineup of Joe Zawinul, Amit Chatterjee, Sabine Kabongo, Paco Sery, Etienne M'bappe and Manolo Badrena to blow the rooftop with their signature burner "Rooftops Of Vienna" as a conclusion of this wonderful concert.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

In Memoriam Josef Zawinul (1932 - 2007)

Josef Zawinul, pianist, electric keyboard and jazz fusion pioneer and co-founder of seminal band Weather Report, passed away September 11 in his hometown of Vienna, Austria. He celebrated his 75th birthday in July, and had recently completed a summer tour of Europe with his band the Zawinul Syndicate for their twenty year jubilee, after which he entered a hospital in Vienna for treatment of cancer.

"Joe Zawinul was born on July 7, 1932 in earth time, and on September 11, 2007 in eternal time. He lives on," his son Erich said in a statement yesterday.

For all of us who grew up listening to Joe Zawinul's music this couldn't be more true -- the man and his music will continue to inspire.

In this small tribute we get to see what a great musician and wonderful human being Joe Zawinul was -- an amazing life for an amazing man. May he rest in peace.

Career highlights from an Austrian TV special, including a brilliant duet with fellow Viennese pianist extraordinaire Friedrich Gulda and, of course, his mega hit Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis 1985

Very few tenor sax players could match sax legend Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis (1922 - 1986) when he locked that jaw. A disciple of the Coleman Hawkins hot school of saxophone playing, he never failed to deliver the goods when called for.

Regrettably, as is the case with many jazz figures, he has never gained the recognition he so righteously deserved.

Here's a chance to see him performing in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1985 just one year before his untimely death. Alongside him are drums giant Ed Thigpen, a long standing Oscar Peterson collaborator, a Copenhagen resident since the early 70s, and locals Niels Jorgen Steen on piano and Jesper Lundgaard on bass.

The setting is very relaxed, no doubt aided by Davis' larger than life stage persona, and the music flows like water. A great jazz moment.

Take The "A" Train

Just Friends

Out Of Nowhere

The Shadow Of Your Smile

If I Had You

Light And Lovely

'S Wonderful

Those silk Shiny Stockings


I Can't Get Started

Don't Get Around Much Anymore

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Televised Jazz #1

The 1950s was the golden era of televised jazz. Nearly all jazz greats of the time appeared on syndicated TV. This post is dedicated to them.

CBS producer Robert Herridge (seen talking on first clip) brought to CBS studio 61 in NYC on April 2, 1959 Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb to give us their masterpiece "So What".

This date was taped for The Sound of Miles Davis, an installment of The Robert Herridge Theater. Altoist Cannonball Adderley, a regular member of this band, was absent because of a migraine headache, which may explain why Davis solos twice on "So What," both before and after Coltrane. Broadcast on July 21, 1960. A jazz moment to cherish forever.

From the same date as above, Miles Davis, John Coltrane on alto, Jimmy Cobb and Paul Chambers join forces with The Gil Evans Orchestra to give us Dave Brubeck's "The Duke". Big band jazz with a twist indeed!

Miles Davis (tpt, flh); John Coltrane ( as); Paul Chambers (b); Jimmy Cobb (d); Ernie Royal (tpt); Clyde Reisinger (tpt); Louis Mucci (tpt); Johnny Coles (tpt); Emmett Berry (tpt); Frank Rehak (tb); Jimmy Cleveland (tb); Bill Elton (tb); Rod Levitt (valve tb); Julius Watkins (frh); Robert Northern (frh); Bill Barber (tuba); Romeo Penque (cl, fl); Eddie Caine (cl, fl); Danny Bank (bcl); Gil Evans (arr, cond)

Ahmad Jamal's tasty tune "New Rhumba", same personnel as above

Gil Evans' "Blues For Pablo", same personnel as above

That's all for now folks, enjoy.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Miles Davis: Isle of Wight 1970

Upturn every jazz stone after the 1940s and chances are that you will see the name Miles Davis written underneath more often than not.

He started his meteoric musical career as a young trumpet player beside Charlie Parker, and it has been upwards ever since.

His Birth Of The Cool sessions of 1949 with his nonet first introduced jazz audiences to the notion of cool jazz. His subsequent quintet of the mid fifties featuring John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Red Garland, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb et al, showed the world how hard bop should be.

As if these were not enough, his 1958 "Kind Of Blue" album, THE most successful jazz album of all time, gave the world modal jazz.

His second great quintet with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Tony Williams of the 1960s explored the new territory of post and freebop.

And finally, his 1969 Bitches Brew album, turned the jazz world on its head with its reckless electric experimentalism, and fusion music was born, not to mention that musicians in the caliber of Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Joe Zawinul and many others won instant recognition. Not bad at all.

The 1970 Isle of Wight festival was by far the largest and most famous of these early festivals indeed it was said at the time to be one of the largest human gatherings in the world surpassing the attendance at Woodstock. The most notable of over fifty performers were The Who, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Ten Years After, Joni Mitchell, Melanie, Donovan, Free, Chicago, Richie Havens, John Sebastian, Leonard Cohen, Jethro Tull and Tiny Tim. The unexpected level of the attendees (tickets holders accounted only for 50.000) was beyond that which the festival organizers and local authorities could supply adequate amenities and guarantee public safety for. Such concerns led in 1971, to Parliament passing the "Isle of Wight Act" preventing gatherings of more than 5,000 people on the island without a special license.

The festival was revived only in 2002.

A piece of music history then, Miles Davis in the company of jazz superstars to-be Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette, Airto Moreira and Gary Bartz, in a 35 minute free form improvisation which Miles, after being asked the title famously replied "oh, call it anything".

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Jazz On A Summer's Day (1958)

Hailed by critics to be the best jazz film ever, famous photographer's Bert Stern's Jazz On A Summer's Day lives up to its reputation today.

Shot in Newport, RI during the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival and the America's Cup trials of the same year, initially intended as a full length motion picture, it was downsized to a concert documentary due to lack of funds. We have to thank our good luck for this, as this film broke new ground on how a live music performance should be captured. It literally wrote the book.

Shot in lush color instead of the grim black and white used until then, including scenes in broad daylight, interleaving performances with the sailing races going on simultaneously, it made people look at jazz from an entirely different perspective.

This was half a century ago and it really shows. People hit it off very differently back then, as the amazing crowd scenes attest to. With rock 'n roll just around the corner ready to take the popular music scene by storm, these were merrier, more innocent times. Enjoy.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Bill Evans - London 1965

Bill Evans (August 16, 1929 - September 15, 1980), the pianist's pianist, literally invented modern jazz piano. His use of impressionist harmony, his inventive interpretation of traditional jazz repertoire and his syncopated and polyrhythmic melodic lines influenced a generation of pianists, including Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and Keith Jarrett.

Here's a rare chance to see the Bill Evans Trio appearing in London on March 19, 1965 for the legendary BBC TV series Jazz 625. Chronologically, this is the third Bill Evans Trio from a lineage of great trios consisting of Chuck Israels on bass and Larry Bunker on drums. The presence of Humphrey Lyttelton as host, a man who has graced Brithsh TV and jazz for decades, only adds to the enjoyment of this musical tour de force.

P.S. All videos from my personal collection, posted on various video hosting web sites.

Friday, July 20, 2007

John McLaughlin - Remember Shakti

Ιn the mid-1970's many believed John McLaughlin had committed commercial suicide by abandoning electric instruments and Western sensibilities in favor of an all-acoustic group with Indian musicians. In fact, record sales for this group, Shakti (translates in Sanskrit to "female creative power" or "goddess") were quite disappointing. Sometimes though, a musician has to follow his muse. In this case, McLaughlin was led to create a very fertile groundbreaking group in the form of Shakti. Shakti was really the first band to truly capture the essence of what we now call "World Music." Shakti's dependence on Eastern musical models infused with Western jazz-like improvisation made for an exciting and influential stew.

One doesn't have to look very far into McLaughlin's past to see why such a band would appeal to him. His own inclinations toward Eastern music can be heard on side two of his earlier recording My Goal's Beyond. Certainly, he was influenced even before that outing by the pop mysticism of the times and his own involvement in seeking self-realization through Eastern philosophy, not to mention of course his study of Indian music.

Remember Shakti, formed in the mid 90s, features original Shakti member, tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, one of the most respected musicians in India, U. Srinivas on mandolin, Shankar Mahadevan on vocals and V. Selvaganesh on percussion.

Remember Shakti, just like John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra, is extremely multinational, and multigenerational.

This is reflective, serious East-meets-West music full of truly virtuosic moments and plenty of drama. Above all, this music is good for the soul.

Let's enjoy this unique group in their appearance in Vienne,France on July 2, 2004.

P.S. All videos from my personal collection, posted on various video hosting web sites.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Dizzy Gillespie Sextet 1977

Enough cannot be said about Dizzy Gillespie's contributions to jazz. He is maybe the second most important trumpet player after Louis Armstrong.

Together with Charlie Parker, he is credited with inventing bebop, the de rigeur jazz vocabulary up to this day.

So, let's stick around Montreux a little bit longer for yet another great concert given there on July 14, 1977, a 30-year jubilee of sorts, team up Dizzy Gillespie with Milt Jackson, Monty Alexander, Jon Faddis, Ray Brown and Jimmie Smith and enjoy the ride.

P.S. All videos from my personal collection, posted on various video hosting web sites.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

JATP - Montreux 1977

JATP (Jazz at the Philharmonic), famous jazz producer Norman Granz's (1918-2001) venerable institution, started as a fundraiser in LA in 1944. After a few more similar events, Granz in 1946 began organizing extensive annual tours using classic swing and bop musicians in a jam session setting.

The importance of these sessions cannot be overstated, and many a career was launched through them, like Oscar Peterson's and Ella Fitzgerald's to name just two. Granz paid his musicians handsomely and did his best to fight racism every bit of the way.

Following that fine tradition, we see an all star group who flew all the way to Montreux, Switzerland on July 16, 1975 to give us this jazz gem.


Clark Terry tp, flg
Roy Eldridge tp
Benny Carter as
Zoot Sims ts
Joe Pass g
Tommy Flanagan p
Keeter Bets b
Bobby Durham d

For You.

Autumn Leaves 1/2. A classic

Autumn Leaves 2/2


If I Had You 1/2

If I Had You 2/2

I Never Knew (That Roses Grew)

Famous jazz critic Nat Hentoff telling us what a hell of a guy Norman Granz was, may he RIP.

P.S. All videos from my personal collection, posted on various video hosting web sites.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

What is this all about

This blog was created to help preserve jazz music, a near- extinct musical idiom today. With the proliferation of hip-hop, electronica, sampling techniques etc, there simply is no commercial room for music played with acoustic instruments.

Jazz great Lou Donaldson in action (pic by yours truly)

I will be mostly presenting videos from my personal collection of past and present masters of this great art form.

Groove on